Monday 11 December 2017

Dear Mary: I love my husband... but he prefers to be with his friends than with me

Relationship counsellor and psychosexual therapist Mary O'Conor offers relationship advice in her weekly column.
Relationship counsellor and psychosexual therapist Mary O'Conor offers relationship advice in her weekly column.

Mary O'Conor

I've been in a relationship with a wonderful man for over seven years. Although we are now married things seem to be going downhill. He honestly prefers time spent with his friends rather than with me.

At first we used to do things together but now we usually don't do much together. Intimacy is once in a blue moon.

I honestly have tried anything and everything to get his attention but it hasn't worked and so I feel like I'm a failure. At times I feel so lonely. I really love this man but I cannot get my feelings across to him because he just doesn't seem to get it. He is one year younger than me.

I need advice please as to what step or measures I should take in order for me to improve my marriage.

Mary replies: Please don't feel like a failure - if anybody is to be seen as failing it is your husband because he is the one who is making you unhappy.

You have been together now for seven years and you are showing all the signs of being taken for granted. He has reverted to his pre-marriage days of going out with the lads but to the detriment of your relationship.

I strongly believe that it is very important for both people in a relationship to have their own friends and interests outside of the relationship, but the relationship has to be at the centre of it all.

There were reasons why he fell in love with you, and you with him, so much so that you made a lifetime commitment to each other. This is now in danger and you are so right to be looking at ways to improve things between you. People forget that relationships, like flowers, need to be nurtured and cared for in order to blossom and continue to grow.

You should get back to doing things together, and you need to be proactive about this. For example, get tickets for a gig, or for a film, or anything that you are both interested in. If you do it long enough in advance then you can be sure you are both free. You made dates before you got married, so why not now as well.

You should also make a point of spending some time together when you meet up in the evening, without the TV or phones on, and chat about how things have been for you both that day. Explain to him that you need to do this - it is amazing how wonderful it is to be truly listened to, and you will both feel the benefit.

As I've already said, it is equally important for you to have your own friends so that you do not appear to be too dependent on the marriage to provide you with everything.

Keep up those friendships and work at them - it is very easy to let them lapse when one becomes a part of a couple but it is a big mistake. We need our friends all our lives whether we are married or single.

Tell your husband once again that while you love him to bits, you are very unhappy with the present situation and ask what he is prepared to do to improve things. You should also ask if there is anything that you can do to make things better, or if there is something that you are doing that he doesn't like.

I am also concerned that he does not appear to be at all interested in being intimate with you - you seem to be a fairly young couple and this should not be happening.

Has he given you any reasons why this is so - it is very important that you speak about this to him, and explain that if you are unfulfilled sexually there would be a chance of you straying and you don't want to do this.

It may be that you need the help of a qualified counsellor - I simply don't have enough information to make a judgment on why there is virtually no intimacy in the marriage.

But something needs to be done to change things and it is up to you both to play your part in making things better between you.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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